Crop Biotech Update

CRISPR Turns Off Bitter Taste, Improves Soybean Seed Germination

August 30, 2023

Researchers led by Dr. Wang Guodong from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology (IGDB) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have discovered the functions of type-A soyasaponin acetylation in soybean seed germination.

Soyasaponins, oleanane-type triterpenoid saponins, are abundant in soybean seeds. Previous studies show that acetylated sugars in type-A soyasaponins contribute to the undesirable bitter taste in soybean-derived foods, while null-acetyl type-A soyasaponins lack this bitterness. However, the specific acyltransferase(s) responsible for acetylation during type-A soyasaponin biosynthesis remains unclear.

Through gene co-expression analysis and the soybean hairy root system, Wang's team identified a candidate BAHD acyltransferase gene, GmSSAcT1, and showed that the gene catalyzes sequential acetylation reactions on type-A soyasaponins. Using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing, the researchers were able to disrupt GmSSAcT1, which resulted in the complete loss of type-A soyasaponins, leading to an accumulation of null-acetyl type-A soyasaponins and a seed germination defect.

For more details, read the article in the CAS Newsroom.

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